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Environmental Law Explored

SEER Essentials: Marine Debris — Laws and Legislation to Address a Global Pollution Crisis

Joan Myers Bondareff and Martha McCoy

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Marine debris, consisting of huge amounts of materials such as plastics, metals, and rubber disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment, is a vast pollution problem facing the ocean and waterways. Marine debris is abundant and extensive, and it causes adverse impacts on wildlife, the environment, the economy, and navigation safety. Plastic pollution in the oceans and waterways poses a particular concern; plastic does not biodegrade in any meaningful amount, but rather, wave energy and sunlight can break plastic down into microplastic fragments, which may carry harmful chemicals and additives, such as endocrine disruptors.

In this episode on the global pollution crisis of marine debris, Joan Bondareff and Martha McCoy discuss the scope, sources, and impacts of the marine debris problem and measures to address it. The episode covers ongoing and emerging federal, nonprofit, community, and international action to prevent and respond to marine debris, as well as recent and proposed legislation addressing plastic pollution and marine debris.